Monday, April 20, 2009

Topping the F500, skyline, polls, regs, good PR, and a piracy solution

The smaller misc items continue to pile up rapidly. One of the more interesting ones is the 2009 Fortune 500 list (Chronicle story), where Texas pulled away from NY (56) and CA (51) with 64 headquarters, 29 of which are in the Houston metro (up from 26 last year). Houston stays as the #2 city with 27 inside the city limits, after NYC (43) but ahead of Dallas (14), Atlanta (9), and Chicago (9). Our 29 are more than 46 states (!), behind only TX, NY, CA, and Illinois. 10 of Texas' 64 are not DFW or Houston, so that leaves 25 for DFW. The bad news is that this may be a local peak for us, as the crash to $50 oil may drop some of our companies out of the 2010 F500. Another frustration: two of the Fortune 10 that should have their HQs here along with the thousands of their employees that are already here - but don't: Exxon (DFW, #1) and Chevron (SF Bay Area, CA, #3).

Moving on:
  • Houston makes the Forbes Traveler list of the world's most stunning skylines. Hat tip to HAIF.
  • A recent poll of political views of Texans, noting that 75% of us are not quite ready to secede from the union yet. Not practical, but a fun item to speculate on.
  • Great post at Keep Houston Houston: imagine if old Manhattan had used "neighborhood preservation" regulations to strictly preserve its original rural, low density character. "Capital of the World" it would not be.
  • A Londoner is wowed by the good life in Houston: "Let's all move to Houston." Who says we don't have world-class quality of life? Hat tip to Anthony.
  • An interesting pass-along from Elizabeth:
My husband, who is from Argentina, sent me this very positive article on Houston from La Nation (one of the two largest newspapers in Argentina).

Roughly - It says that the city is more than a hub for science, technology and industry.. But Houston has a wonderful cultural offering, a shopping paradise, and a place that is continuing to grow…


(Google's attempt at a rough Spanish to English translation here)
Finally, in a completely off-the-wall segment having nothing to do with Houston, my cheap technology solution to Somali piracy: small but fast torpedoes that home in on propeller noises and disable them with either a very tiny explosive or with some sort of tangle net. Every ship could carry several of them and just pitch them over the side when needed, probably with some sort of encrypted signal so they don't home in on the mother ship's propeller, and with a sink or self-destruct mechanism if they run out of fuel or time without finding their target (or maybe connect them by wire to the mother ship - even put them out for tow just in case when in dangerous waters). No deaths or messy gun fights - just a bunch of pirates sitting in boats going nowhere and waiting for the authorities to pick them up.

Or there's always Somali nation-building, which has worked so well in the past...

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4 Comments:

At 7:49 PM, April 20, 2009, Blogger Brian Shelley said...

Interesting note. Oracle agreed to buy Sun Microsystems today, so California just lost one.

 
At 11:55 PM, April 20, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While your torpedo with pirate-safe netting is a nice idea, shooting them has been demonstrated to be far more cost-effective.

 
At 8:39 AM, April 21, 2009, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

My understanding is that shipping companies resist that because 1) their people aren't trained with guns, 2) they don't want guns on board, and, most especially, 3) they fear the pirates would kill the crew if it resisted with deadly force, esp. if some pirates were killed in the assault.

 
At 1:14 PM, April 21, 2009, Anonymous Neal Meyer said...

...my cheap technology solution to Somali piracy: small but fast torpedoes that home in on propeller noises and disable them with either a very tiny explosive or with some sort of tangle net.Well Tory, it seems that you've spotted a new entrepreneural opportunity. Why don't you pitch your idea to some engineers and investors?

Of course, I would imagine that you may want to bone up first on a little bit on admiralty law to see if such devices are - ahem - legal for civilians to possess and use. As you note, if something goes wrong and you end up knocking out another ship, then you've just created some problems with insurance and lawsuits for yourself.

Neal

 

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